Poonch boy carves out a niche in Bollywood

Ritesh Gupta
Once kidnapped by militants, Tariq Khan-a Poonch boy has become an inspiration for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir by making it to Bollywood through his dint of hard work, dedication and determination. Today, he has many films to his credit as producer, director and actor, and many of these films have won international awards.
He is best known for his acclaimed feature films like Mantostaan, Identity Card, Side A & Side B and Lihaaf. Belonging to Bufliaz area of Surankote in district Poonch, Tariq Khan is son of Shadi Khan (a local politician) and nephew of Farooq Khan- a prominent Urdu poet. In an exclusive interview to Excelsior, Tariq Khan shared his whole film journey and his inclination towards art and cinema.
Tariq Khan said that his film journey started right from his school days when he along with school mates-Rahat Qazmi and Zahid Qureshi thought of making a film. “We didn’t know much about film making and haven’t money for the same but we have passion. So, we all friends collected money whatever had and made a local film titled Zarliena”. He said at that time, militancy was at its peak and people told us not to make film as militants will kill us but we didn’t listen to anyone except our heart.
Khan said thereafter they came to Jammu, worked in Jammu Doordarshan and ETV and it was in the year 2013, when they setup their own production house and made a film ‘Identity Card’. He said ‘Identity Card’ was hugely acclaimed and very well received internationally and this was the film from where their real journey of cinema started. He said thereafter, they made Mantostaan which was jointly produced by him, Rahat Kazmi, Aaditya Pratap Singh and Zeba Sajid. This film was based on controversial and the most sensitive short stories of legendary Urdu writer Saadat Hassan Manto back in the era of partition of India and Pakistan. He shared that in the upcoming year, their 8 to 9 films including Lines, Lihaaf and Side A & Side B are going to be released.
Sharing his work experiences with renowned actress like Hina Khan, Farida Jalal and Sara Khan who acted in many of his films, Tariq Khan said that all these women are not only good actresses but also very good human beings. “Hina Khan worked in our 3 films-Lines, Wishlist and Country of Blind. While the first two have already been released, the third one is going to be released very soon. Sara Khan has done 2 films and one web series with us. One of them is ‘Guilt’ which was produced by Rakesh Khajuria of Jammu and Rahat Qazmi also acted in the film. Besides these actors, many big actors of Bollywood including Inaamulhaq have also worked with us,” he added.
On acclamations and awards to his films, Khan disclosed that their very first production ‘Identity Card’ was shown in US Parliament while discussing Kashmir issue as the film was based on Kashmir situation. “That film got us best film, best director, best supporting actor award in USA and then one award in IFEFA Australia and best film award in ZEE Cinema’s Rajasthan International Film Festival in 2014,” he said.
He said their film Mantostaan was premiered at Cannes Film Festival where it was very well received and reviewed by international media as one of the finest films from South Asia. “This film also got best director and best film award in London Asian Film festival. Our third film ‘Side A & Side B’ also got best director award while recently released ‘Lihaaf’ has got us 12 International awards,” Khan disclosed.
Regarding shoot in J&K, Tariq Khan said that J&K is always his first priority when it comes to shoot. “I always want to shoot in J&K so that it can become a parallel industry and the talented youth of J&K get chance to act and direct in their home town. He said they have shot in 10-12 countries till date but the natural beauty and beautiful landscapes which are here cannot be found anywhere in the world.
On his future plan, Tariq said that they are working on a very big project but refrained from sharing details of the project. He said in another project, actor Anil Kapoor also agreed to work with them and they will soon announce the project as it will be shot in J&K. We have also done 2 web series and very soon going to make a big web series on J&K history right from the events of 1947 to till date. This web series, Tariq said, will showcase many significant events with which our younger generation is totally ignorant.
On regional cinema, he said there is need to support it as several beautiful languages like Gojri, Dogri, Kashmiri and Pahari are spoken in J&K and it is only through regional cinema, you can reach to International community. Good regional films are well appreciated at International level and now-a-days you need not to dub the films in English to go to International stage.
Speaking on his kidnapping by militants in the year 1998, Tariq said he was kidnapped just because his father was an active political leader. “Fortunately, I returned back safely. If I has crossed Line of Control, I would not have here in front of you. My film ‘Side A & Side B’ was actually a biography what happened to us and other youth of Poonch in 1998. There was negativity in our mind and youth were going towards terrorism,” he said in a lighter vein.
To a question on his political aspiration, Tariq said, “I remained Youth president of National Conference for 12 years but as my passion was film making so I decided to pursue that and left the politics.” He said in future, if he feels that he should come in politics, he will come again and serve his people as a politician.
In a message to the youth of J&K, Tariq said with honesty, dedication and determination we can achieve everything provided that our goals are clear and there is no confusion in mind. “For film making, you need not to go outside. You should have a good idea/script and then you can shoot even from your house,” he asserted.